The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has developed a new focus on ‘greenwashing’, declaring it to be one of their enforcement priorities in 2023. ASIC is committed to addressing all concerns or allegations of misleading and deceptive conduct, with ASIC Deputy Chair Sarah Court stating that “Greenwashing is simply misleading and deceptive conduct by another name”.
What is ‘greenwashing’?
‘Greenwashing’ involves an organisation misrepresenting their sustainability or environmental practices. This enables organisations to mislead consumers into believing that the organisation's products or operations are more environmentally friendly than they actually are.
ASIC has increased surveillance of marketing and advertising material, disclosure documents and product disclosure statements for any signs of ‘greenwashing’.
Enforcement actions undertaken by ASIC against organisations found to be engaging in ‘greenwashing’ include warnings at the first instance, and those may be followed by requirements for corrective disclosures, infringement notices or the commencement of civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court.
The first action was commenced in February for misleading statements concerning the sustainable nature of certain superannuation investment options, with further proceedings being commenced in July and August respectively, each concerning misrepresentative ESG claims.
How to avoid engaging in misleading conduct
There are a number of steps organisations can take to avoid engaging in ‘greenwashing’, including:
This article includes general information only and is not specific to your situation.
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